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News Posted on February 7, 2012

Fenwick & West Symposium Brings Twitter Co-founder, Top Social Media Experts to King Hall

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jason Goldman, a co-founder of Twitter, highlighted an outstanding group of King Hall faculty, online business leaders, legal scholars and practitioners, and industry experts assembled at UC Davis School of Law on February 3 for "Connect! Social Media as a Platform for Innovation and Collaboration," the 2012 Fenwick & West Symposium in Technology, Entrepreneurship, Science, and Law (TESLaw). The symposium explored issues surrounding social media, privacy, intellectual property rights, host liability, and more in a day-long event. (Video of the event may be viewed here.)

After brief introductory remarks from Dean Kevin R. Johnson and Fenwick & West partner David Bell, Professor Anupam Chander began the symposium with a lecture based on his work-in-progress paper, "How Law Made Silicon Valley," describing the "legal ecosystem" that enabled online startup companies in the Bay Area to innovate and thrive.  In many countries, privacy and copyright restrictions would have presented companies such as Google and Facebook with prohibitive potential liabilities, but in the United States a "First Amendment-infused" legal culture provided a framework conducive for online ventures, Professor Chander said.  The preservation of a legal environment conducive to online innovation should be a priority for the U.S. as other countries seek to establish Silicon Valley-like enterprises, he said.  "The law made Silicon Valley possible," he said. "Congress can also break Silicon Valley, make it impossible."

In his keynote address, Jason Goldman, a co-founder of Twitter and Chief Operations Officer of the Obvious Corporation, spoke on how social media reflect a change in the purpose and function of the internet and a recognition that "the fully realized purpose of the web, in our view, is not just an information retrieval system, but a contribution engine." Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have turned the internet into a "medium of personal expression," with profound social, economic, and political consequences.  The data contributed by users has had a wide range of unpredicted consequences, from allowing public health officials to track the progress of influenza epidemics to enabling dissidents to organize against repressive regimes.  The most successful companies have often been those that, like Twitter, manage to entice users into contributing by lowering the threshold of participation, said Goldman.  As mobile computing devices become omnipresent and more advanced, the influence of social media will become even more pervasive, and evolve in new, unpredictable directions, he said.

The symposium included the following panel discussions:

  • "Privacy amidst Social Networks" featuring Ahmed Baladi, Partner, Allen & Overy; Jishnu Menon, Counsel, Mozilla Foundation; William McGeveran, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Law School; and Joanne McNabb, Chief, California Office of Privacy Protection;
  • "Content, Copyright, Intellectual Property, Host Liability" with Anupam Chander, Professor, UC Davis School of Law and Director, California International Law and Policy Center at King Hall; Eric Goldman, Associate Professor, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara University; and Jennifer Stanley, Associate, Fenwick & West;
  • "Will All Business Be Social?" featuring Mario Biagioli, Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law and Director, UC Davis Center for Science and Innovation Studies; John Lilly, Partner, Greylock Partners; Dan Rosensweig, President and CEO, Chegg and former CEO of Guitar Hero, former COO of Yahoo, and former President of CNET; Jim Scheinman, Founder and CEO, Maven Ventures; and Ted Wang, Partner, Fenwick & West.

"Connect! Social Media as a Platform for Innovation and Collaboration" took place as part of the TESLaw Lecture Series sponsored by Fenwick & West, a five-year program of annual symposia focused on providing practitioners, academics, and students with the knowledge base to successfully address the challenges that are inherent to computing, digital communications, social media, "clean" technology, and life sciences and biotechnology markets of the 21st century.  Established in the heart of Silicon Valley in 1972, Fenwick & West provides comprehensive legal services to technology and life-sciences clients of national and international prominence.

"Connect! Social Media as a Platform for Innovation and Collaboration"